Quetico LLC, a Chino warehouse and distribution company, has been hit with labor law violation citations topping $1 million, says California Labor Commissioner Julie Su. The company was cited for overtime violations and failure to provide a required 30-minute meal period to employees involving 865 employees.
“The Labor Commissioner has reinvigorated enforcement at the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and is serious about addressing violations of basic labor laws,” says Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, also known as the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, is a division of DIR.
The state says its investigation revealed that Quetico, LLC had established restrictive procedures which shorted workers their wages. The company operates two warehouses on a complex occupying half a million square feet, an area the equivalent of just under 20 football fields. According to the state, the warehouse required employees to punch in but provided only three time clocks for their workers, resulting in long lines of more than 100 employees. Workers who arrived to work on time but waited in line to punch in were given “warnings” for punching in late. This created a situation where employees were obliged to report to work earlier and earlier, time for which they were not compensated.
When employees punched out for their meal period, they were also required to stand in long lines, which cut into their 30-minute lunch break and forced them to come back early to punch back in, the state says. The company would alter their time records to reflect that the employees had been allotted the full 30-minute lunch break.
Additionally, the Labor Commissioner’s investigation revealed that Quetico penalized workers who complained about the unpaid wages. A retaliation investigation concluded that the employer had issued disciplinary memos and suspended three workers who filed complaints with the Labor Commissioner. The workers’ records have been corrected and Quetico has made a commitment to make permanent changes to the punch card policy to avoid further labor law violations.
Quetico’s Chino facilities move products for big box retailers with merchandise including shoes, apparel and electronics. The workers package merchandise that is then sent out to stores and other distribution centers.